Close encounters: 365days myopic view

{ Essay on photography by Arjun Ramachandran, a media student with interests in cinema and photography. 365 days myopic is a smart phone photographic series done by photographer Abul Kalam Azad, as a contribution to Project 365 public photo archive Tiruvannamalai. In this unique, expansive body of work Abul records the everyday life in the ancient town, Tiruvannamalai. Abul is the Director of Project 365, and co-founder of Ekalokam Trust for Photography.}

Since the advent of digital technology and its fast growth, we have been carelessly misplacing or erasing much of the images we produce, “safely” storing them in the long forgotten floppy discs, CD drives, USB drives, old mobile phones, cameras etc. Photography, which is essentially a print, has been stripped of its traditional alchemical quality and longevity, and has almost completely become mere virtual intangible images. While this digitization has undoubtedly democratised the medium and stretched the horizons of thought of its practitioners, the danger is, in an instant, the innumerable casual-yet-valuable images that are being made can be lost forever to our future generations.

Digital recording is, largely, mere magnetisation of a material or optical marks made on a surface. The unwanted and untrue connotation that the word “digital” has acquired is that it is only presentable on a screen; “digital” only really means quantised, non-continuous data. On the basis of this misunderstanding, we have been storing digital images for the purpose of virtual viewing alone and by nature, digital recording is much more vulnerable to damage compared to analogue (read continuous) recording. A stray magnetic field is enough to wipe out a hard disk.

Even though several thousand photographs are being taken every day, by nearly everyone, only a very few provide thoughtful and focused efforts to preserve these photographs like yesteryear epigraphical documentation or other iconographic motifs for the benefit of future generations. This is as much an effect of seeming unnecessity and non-viability as it is of gross negligence. Documents are only valuable for those who see a use for it many years down the line, and not for those who do not intend to pay a second thought to the matter. Smart phone photographs, therefore, seem trivial and replicable for the majority of the authors and as such, irrelevant. These photographs may not be printable in larger formats, may not be commercially viable, but in an archive, they serve well the intended purpose – a visual document of ordinary people and their everyday life in an ancient town.


Abul Kalam Azad has been making smart phone photographs as connecting anecdotes for project 365. He has created several hundred lo-fi images depicting the life and culture of this ancient town, recording routine or chance meetings, casual events or details of his own daily life. Project 365 public photo archives will be locally preserving these images for public access and research. Setting aside his expertise in analogue & experimental photographic works and after traversing through digital, painted, manipulated images, Abul has consciously shifted to smart phone image making in a bid to utilise its nuances.


Smart phone images readily seem to bring in an element of autobiography. The daily events are most often captured through them, almost always in a moment of subconscious composition and judgement. There is a lack of formality or any veil of pretention that a bulky professional camera might induce even though the pretentions and mannerisms of the “real world” remain intact, as the smart phone remains nearly invisible between the subject and the artist. Even in staged portraits captured on smart phones, the posture of the subject becomes much freer. The smart phone becomes something of a non-intervening observer, not affecting the system at all.

The myopic eye of smart phone demands that the photographer has to be within a certain “intimate” distance to take a photograph. There has to be a certain connection between the one who is being photographed and the photographer himself – using a smart phone to create portraits of people means that the photographer is not a mere witness; the one who is photographed often looks straight into the camera and thus, at the photographer. A reflection of the effect of eye contact between the photographer and the subject is captured in the portrait.


This presence of intimacy is what a spectator relates to in these images. As personal spaces become increasingly reserved and physical contact becomes restricted in a wave of conservative urban-elite influence, this welcome intrusion of a nonprofessional-appearing, smart-phone-wielding photographer into touching distances of the subject is a reminder of the extent of simplicity and freedom in human relationships.

Disclaimer: Photographs and text published in this post is copyrighted property of the author. Prior permission is required from the author for republishing and reprinting. For more information, contact Ekalokam Trust for Photography at admin@etpindia.org

Project 365 Tiruvannamalai

Collectively creating and preserving photographic visuals of the fast vanishing landscape, divergent customs, pluralistic culture and diversified Dravidian society of ancient Tamilakam, a region comprising modern Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

Title: 360degrees ecology of ancient Annamalai Hill
Photographer: Jiby Charles
Medium: Digital
Year: 2014 / 2015
Courtesy: EtP Project 365 public photo archive

EtP PROJECT 365

Collectively creating and preserving photographic visuals of the fast vanishing landscape, divergent customs, pluralistic culture and diversified Dravidian society of ancient Tamilakam, a region comprising modern Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

இ. டி. பி. ப்ராஜெக்ட் 365
அதி வேகமாய் மாறி வருகின்ற நவீன தமிழ்நாடு, கேரளம், புதுச்சேரி, கர்நாடக மற்றும் ஆந்திர மாநிலங்களை உள்ளடக்கிய பண்டைத் தமிழகத்தின் சமகால வாழ்வுமுறையையும், கலாச்சாரத்தையும், பன்முகத்தன்மை வாய்ந்த திராவிட சமூகத்தையும் புகைப்பட பதிவுகளாக பாதுகாக்கும் ஒரு பொதுமை புகைப்படக்கலை திட்டமே ப்ராஜெக்ட் 365.

EtP പ്രൊജക്റ്റ് 365
അതിവേഗം മാറ്റങ്ങൾക്ക് വിധേയമായിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന ആധുനിക കേരളം, തമിഴ് നാട്, കർണാടകം, പുതുച്ചേരി, ആന്ധ്രയുടെ ചില ഭാഗങ്ങൾ എന്നിവ ഉൾപെടുന്ന സംഘകാല തമിഴകം പ്രദേശത്തിലെ സമകാലിക ജീവിതരീതികളും നിലനില്കുന്ന സംസ്കാരവും വൈവിധ്യമുള്ള ദ്രാവിഡവേരുകളുള്ള സമൂഹവും കേന്ദ്രീകരിച്ച്‌ ഫോട്ടോ ദൃശ്യഭിംഭങ്ങൾ സൃഷ്ടിക്കാൻ ശ്രമിക്കുന്ന ഒരു പൊതു സാംസ്‌കാരിക കൂട്ടായ്മയാണ് പ്രൊജക്റ്റ്‌ 365.

For more information contact EtP at project365@etpindia.org / http://www.etpindia.org

‘SEMA’ – the whirling dance

'Sema' - solo show of Abul Kalam Azad
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x cm / 2014

What I may not see, let me not see;

What I may not hear, let me not hear;

What I may not know, I ask not to know…

Beloved, I am contented with both thy speech and thy silence !!!

‘Sema’, solo print show of Abul Kalam Azad is the third of the yearlong ‘Photography and beyond’ exhibition series organised by EtP as part of Project 365 – the yearlong public photo art project. In this recent works, Abul has fused found litho prints, archival pigment prints on painted hardwood… the show also features two digital print on silk.

'Sema' mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x 30 cm / 2014
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x 30 cm / 2014
'Sema' mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x 30 cm / 2014
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 30 cm x 30 cm / 2014
'Sema' pigment print on silk / 54 cm x 54 cm / 2014
‘Sema’ pigment print on silk / 54 cm x 54 cm / 2014

The Sema (whirling dance) of the dervishes is an expression of the cosmic joy experienced by the simultaneous effect of annihilation and glorification. Sema is the witnessing of the state of perceiving the mysteries of the God through the heavens of the divinity. It is to fight with one’s own self, to fight, to flutter desperately like a half-slaughtered bird, bloodstained and covered with dust and dirt. Sema is a secret. There is a time with god and during this time neither angel nor prophet can intrude. Sema is to attain that place where even an angel cannot go…

'Sema' - solo show of Abul Kalam Azad
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 90 cm x 90 cm / 2014

P P Sha Nawas is an author / Independent writer based in Kerela. He has traveled much in South India and has written many articles in the field of art, archeology, theology, culture and photography. His articles have been published in several prominent malayalam newspapers and periodicals which has also been translated to English and published in art magazines across India. He has written the following piece about the ongoing SEMA show:

“Kalai Illam is a small space for art and photography at Thiruvannamalai. The house turned into a gallery space has witnessed many shows of eminent artists since its inception a year ago. Right now, ‘SEMA’ a print exhibition of photographer Abul Kalam Azad is being exhibited. In this recent series, Abul has used the found lithographic popular prints, fused on painted hardwood; digital pigment prints on silk, paper etc., . SEMA, the show titled, talks of a time when men and God communicated without a middle man, neither through the medium of a saint nor a prophet. SEMA shows the part images of our well known saints and gurus, printed in the wooden circles. Why part images of these revered personalities like Narayana Guru, Saradamba, Ambedkar, Vivekananda and God images of Hanuman and others? May be, it is connoting the current scenario of the lost faces of our saint teachers, in the ego driven greedy world of spirituality which is commercialized and marketed. The teachers’ teaching have been lost… instead their images are venerated and adored without any reasonable reason behind!!! Reign of the images, the age of spectacle, according to Debore, is the rule of the day. And, this desperate situation is depicted in a special way in these works. The technique of pop art is used to make an ambiance of sarcasm, as always a characteristic feature of Abul Kalam Azad’s works. Abul’s works for the last couple of decades have been transformed into capturing part images of the objects, instead of usual technique of framing and seeing the entire object. These part images invoke a bunch of memories which may lead the onlooker to his lost past. Photography always leaves traces of nostalgia, and Abul uses this characteristic of his medium to its height and breadth. These prints also provide a rich memory of our cultural past and renaissance fervor.

'Sema' mix-media print on painted hard wood / 90 cm x 90 cm / 2014
‘Sema’ mix-media print on painted hard wood / 90 cm x 90 cm / 2014

Two other prints, which is also round in shape, are marvelous works that Abul has done recently, in which the tiny image of TAJMAHAL and the gopura of Madurai MEENAKSHI temple is captured. The starry night and moon lit ambiance engulfs the images. The gopura of the temple is seen from the view of an arch, which invokes a Mughal architectural motif. And the tiny image of TAJMAHAL, is counter posed with a railway line under. What is meant by this subtle juxtaposition? Connoting something historical? Invoking some historical evolution of our tradition of seeing and viewing? These prints have many things to say, the architectural resemblance of TAJ and the Temple Gupura, the Persian and Egyptian influences and references of Indian architecture could be one way of understanding. It also could be interpreted through the ongoing process of political change that has changed our perception of viewing things. Dynasties and rules change the style and functioning of our viewing. A new ruling ideology may make paradigm shift in our seeing and viewing things. These part images of Gopuram of a South Indian temple and and Tajmahal are thus talking a story of changing political situation. It is like seeing reality through the ideology of the rulers. But the aesthetic aspect of these works should speak by themselves. Not by descriptive words, but by seeing and assimilating the visual itself…”

TO BE CONTINUED

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. All the images published in this post is a photograph of the prints of Abul Kalam Azad taken by project 365 photographer Arnav Rastogi and belongs to EtP Archives. Text (C) PP Sha Nawas. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP Archives. Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com/ FACEBOOK – Project 365

Palmyra, and the story of a wandering artist

“Palmyra”

A solo show of Chrigel (Christian) Uhlmann is right now open for public at Kalai Illam, Tiruvannamalai. The show features his palm leaf sculptures and paintings. There are several exhibitions and interesting art works created all around the world. However, this particular show tells the story of the artwork that re-connects two friends who had lost touch with one another…

Christian Uhlmann / Photographer Unknown / EtP Archives
Christian Uhlmann painting (Swiss Alps) / Livio Piatti / Silver Gelatin Prints 1975/ EtP Archives

EtP’s archives has several images of Christian Uhlmann. These images are taken and donated by Abul Kalam Azad to the Trust. EtP’s interest is to archive the life and work of photographers and artists. That’s why we started excavating stories and anecdotes from Christian’s life ….. Even though, the present generation Indian artists will not be able to trace the hippie trail left behind by this maverick group of musicians and artists, their memorable voyage into our landscape is a story to be told and retold for generations to come.

Chrigel was born in Winterthur, Switzerland. Christian started painting at a young age. He was inspired by his father, a talented artist who taught him painting. A traveler by heart, Christian has explored different parts of the world and his road trips have taken him through many paths that cannot be traveled anymore. The fast changing geography in his life journey spanning polars, “from Alps to Arunachala” as he himself testifies, and a simplicity reminiscent of the ‘true hippie’ though at first glance is hard to comprehend, has a ubiquitous mystical correlation all through his works.

Christian Uhlmann with his colleagues at Zurich Art School, Switzerland / Photographer Unknown / 1974
Christian Uhlmann with his colleagues at Zurich Art School, Switzerland / Photographer Unknown / 1974

Hippie subculture

The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. Hippie fashions and values had a major effect on culture, influencing popular music, television, film, literature, and the arts. Since the 1960s, many aspects of hippie culture have been assimilated by the mainstream American society. The religious and cultural diversity espoused by the hippies gained widespread acceptance including eastern philosophy and spiritual concepts. The hippie legacy can be observed in contemporary culture in myriad forms, including health food, music festivals, contemporary sexual mores, and even the cyberspace revolution. The hippie movement was in its rise in Europe in the 1970s when it was facing the ‘after shock’ in America. In the year 1971, Christian started his journey from Switzerland in a fourteen seat matador van along with 7 other crew members. In this group of European hippies, most of them were musicians and two of them were talented painters. Their final destination was India…..

The Journey

Christian and his troupe reached India after traveling almost three months on road, from Swizz crossing over all of East Europe, passing Turkey, Greece, Tehran, Baghdad, Kabul, Karachi and Dharmashala by land. His travel was full of amazing experiences and adventures. Crossing over Bamyan Buddha or sitting in a café in Kabul or moving through the Waga border or meeting Dalai Lama in the road is almost next to impossibility now. During his first India was facing a war with Bangladesh. Just before the war he crossed the border and was staying put Dharmashala for almost two months. After the war, the group went to Nepal. The team separated in Nepal and Christian came alone to Banaras. Without any travel guide or direction books, Christian hoped to different places and he back to Swizz via Delhi. Christian fondly recollects, “Our life was music and art. All through the way we paint and make music, sing and dance. Freedom and passion was our spirit. Falling in love, saying good byes were all part of the travel… without mobile phone or internet, traveling in less trailed hidden terrains was indeed an enjoyable experience with all its inherent risks.” This trip lasted about year. Christian and his friends also did a trans-saharan trip (Senegal, Mally upto Algeria and return), after a short break in their country.

Christian Uhlmann / Photographer Unknown / Silver Gelatin Prints / EtP Archives
Christian Uhlmann with Ali (dog) / Livio Piatti / Silver Gelatin Prints / EtP Archives

His next trip to India was in the 1975s. This time it was in his own car, with his girlfriend. He with his usual mischievous said, “I remember my time in Afghanistan.. During those times, Afghanistan was full of cafés, people, vibrant culture and food… it was free and safe. The wilderness of Afghanistan terrain was so tough and heavy and by the time we reached Bamyan, my car got broken and my girl friend opted to stay back in Afghanistan. I still remember looking at the huge Buddha sculpture in Bamyan… alone, for a long time… . Although their original plan was to New Zealand with the turbulent changes, Christian continued his journey to India. His search for questions about self, life and love made him wander in the wilderness of the pilgrim towns of India, Varanasi, Puri etc., and he reached South India. Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, Salem, Kanyakumari, Varkala etc., His trip was not following any designed course; he simply hopped from one place to another looking at the map. There were not many tourists that time and he simple had to choose some where to go based on a hunch. He continued this journey for almost four years and finally in the 1980s he returned back to Varkala, India looking for a place to settle for alteast few months. During this entire 5 years of travel, he didn’t stay in one place for longer than 2 weeks. His need for settling some where was evident. Christian says, “When I was wandering in the Varkala beach looking for a stay, somebody in the tea shop took me to a place. It was an ashram… I wasn’t looking for an ashram but then Hamsha Johannus de Reade called me and it was comfortable.. So I stayed there… He explained to me that there is a place in Italy. I also went to Italy and stayed at the ashram. I came back to Varkala in the year 1983 with an entry VISA to learn Advaita and Vedanta under the guidance of Hamsha Johannus de Reade, who was a disciple of Dr. Mess. Dr. Mess was known Sadhu Ekarasa and he was very much related to Ramana Maharishi and has taken several photos of Ramana Maharishi. Dr. Mess was a scholar from Holland. Although I never had any plans to become part of any ashram structure, I and Hamsha had very interesting conversations… I was not a conformist to his ideas and I didn’t take part in any of the ashram activities but opted to paint during my stay in Varkala…”

The art work

Photographer Abul Kalam Azad says, “In the year 2010, I was introduced to Christian Uhlmann (Krishna Das) by my artist friend Judith Beartshi, who is also from Switzerland. We met Christian at his home, a farm in the outskirts of Tiruvannamalai town. He was in his lungi, busily tending and milking the cows…. To me, he appeared as a half naked fakir…. Judith introduced me to Christian and informed about ‘where three dreams cross’, the exhibition in Winterthur museum where my works were being featured. Thus a casual introduction lead to a trusted conversation and Christian came forward to share his art and his treasured collection.., That’s when I saw these two identical portraits of Christian. The familiar strength of the lines and the composition struck my eyes. As an artist, I am always curious to know a fellow artist. I asked him with my usual loud and husky voice , “who is the artist?….” Christian replied with his innocent tone of a farmer, “I do not know…. I was enjoying my peak hippie time and I stayed in Varkala for few months. It must be 1983 or 1984. I used to stay in an ashram in Varkala. I often see a young local boy quietly drawing the surrounding and its people. I befriended him and as a gesture of friendship, he did two portraits of mine. I left Varkala and my wandering finally took me here (Tiruvannamalai). But I preserved these works and I have always been eager to meet Shibu again…..” I probed further. Finally, Christian said dramatically, “his name is Natesan… his father was having a commercial painting studio called Baby Natesan art or Baby art “.

I knew Shibu Natesan, he is now a noted contemporary Indian painter and lives in London.”

Drawing of Christian Uhlmann / Photographed by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives
Drawing of Christian Uhlmann 1983 / Photographed by Abul Kalam Azad / EtP Archives

Shibu informed Abul, “Christian Uhlmann, was a friend for a short period of time in the mid 80s. This hard core hippie used to live in Kannuvashramam, which is situated on top of the Kakkalathu Hill, varkala. Once I traveled to Kovalam beach with him and spent a night there among his friends… I got a lot of attention at that night, being a winner of the chess game. Christian used to look like Durer (self portrait). I hope to meet him again next time when I visit Thiruvannamalai.”

Shibu never knew that his two drawings are being preserved for so many years in his favorite town Tiruvannamalai by a hippie wanderer…Christian never thought that he would meet this young artist who is now internationally acclaimed… Christian started coming to Tiruvannamalai in the year early 1980s. Since then he has been on and off to Tiruvannamalai every year and in the year 1993 he moved to Tiruvannamalai permanently. Even though Shibu is a frequent visitor to Tiruvannamalai, they both never knew that the other is in the same town. Yet, like a movie, these two artists are re-connected through an artwork… When Shibu visited Tiruvannamalai, Christian was not in town…. a phone call was not a possibility, as Christian is still that hippie, he hardly answers the phone.

The reunion

As part of the year-long ‘Photography and beyond’ exhibition series, EtP had organised a solo show of Christian Uhlmann.

"Palmyra" / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
“Palmyra” / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

Shibu Natesan inaugurated the show and the two friend met after a long time…

Christian Uhlmann and Shibu Natesan / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Christian Uhlmann and Shibu Natesan / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
'Palmyra" / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
‘Palmyra” / Image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Noted art historian and curator Johny Mullivilakom Lakshmanan at the Palmyra Show inauguration / image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives
Noted art historian and curator Johny Mullivilakom Lakshmanan at the Palmyra Show inauguration / image (C) Leo James / EtP Archives

Christian still keeps the original legacy of hippie life style in Tiruvannamalai. In 1994, Christian left Kannuvashramam and married Rani, a local Tamil woman. Together they manage the 2 acre farm in Tiruvannamalai. They together have traveled to the Himalayas, Europe and many other places. His mother was working in a psychiatry hospital and his sister works as an editor. His brother-in-law was the city mayor. His brother is a builder. As far as our Christian is concerned, he had been a cow-boy in Alps, post man in Arts school, assistant in a bale troupe… and in life he was an all time wanderer and artist…. Christians works have been exhibited in one of prominent galleries run by UBS along with Wassily Kandinsky. Carl Neukom, a German who was part of UBS has collected Christians paintings and also has been a sole patron for Christian for a long time.

The life and lifestyle of Christian is hard to comprehend and follow now. He often says, “I don’t know any spirituality.. I think the world is my ashram… I don’t know whether I am an artist… I paint for my own joy!!! I plant seeds and know that it will grow…”

The show is open for public until 25th September 2014. ALL ARE WELCOME.

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to EtP Archives. Prior permission is required to reproduce and / or and / or print in any form. If you need more information contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com

PROJECT 365 – a 360degrees 365 days photo perambulation of the hill and the symbol

40 photographers document the ‘ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle’ in Tiruvannamalai
August 2014 – July 2015

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365. In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the Cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP
Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP

TIRUVANNAMALAI – an ancient South Indian heritage town

Experiments done by the Geological Survey of India revealed that the rock (charnockite) which makes up the Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai is older than 3.5 billion years and believed to have formed as a result of massive volcanic eruption. The fertile land around the hill was a highly potential farming land and soon became an important human settlement in South India. Tiruvannamalai is considered to be older than Mathurai (2ndSangam circa 1st century BCE). Many a legend and mythical story of Saiva belief grew around this hill revered as Fire, one of the pancha bhootas (Earth Water Fire Wind and Space Elements).

The first recorded history of the town dates back to the ninth century CE, as seen from Chola inscriptions in the Arunachaleshwara temple which states that the present masonry structure of the ancient temple was built during the same period by the Chola Dynasty (from 850 CE to 1280 CE). The temple, one of the largest in India, is rich in tradition, history and festivals. Hundreds and thousands of small and big Chola period inscriptions, architecture, sculpture and mural art can be found around the whole town. Saint poets like Tirunavukarasar, Appar, Pattinathar and Ramana Maharishi have created historical literature about Tiruvannamalai, the temple and the hill. The town is largely associated with living traditions and beliefs that have been recorded in literary works of outstanding universal significance.

Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archive
Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archives

Apart from the Cholas, Tiruvannamalai was ruled by the Pallavas, Hoysalas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Carnatic kingdom, Tipu Sultan and the British. The architecture and art created collectively by the artists’ guilds of yesteryears with the patronage of the perennially warring, but ever culturally united rulers, stand as a museum of our culture and art.

Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archive
Agni Shylam / Image (C) AKA / EtP Archives

Karthikai Deepam is the most popular festival of Tiruvannamalai and inscriptions indicate that the festival was celebrated as early as the Chola period (3rd to 13th century BCE). As part of the festival, a massive wick is lit in a cauldron, at the top of the Annamalai Hill and to mark the occasion, several thousand people from the neighbouring villages gather. The visually fantastic event also has vibrant village markets and cattle fairs that are increasingly becoming obsolete. Every month during full moon, several thousand pilgrims perambulate around the Arunachala Hill.

Acclaimed photographers like PRS Mani, Dr.T.N. Krishnaswamy, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eliot Elisofon, G Govind Welling and many other known, and unknown photographers have created several bodies of photography works of Tiruvannamalai. The invaluable few works of these eminent photographers are being archived and preserved by Sri Ramana Ashram, Tiruvannamalai.

Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archive
Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archives

A pre-existently rich photographic history is presented in recent visual capture technologies. It is also seen to be supported in richly graphic descriptions of Tiruvannamalai’s rich and unparalleled vibrantly alive culturally all-inclusive life. These, and the peculiarly protean genius flowering amidst rural setting, increasingly amenable to international audience encourages EtP to do this long overdue visual mapping and documenting in a contemporary hi-definition documentation of this primordial town. Project 365 – Tiruvannamalai will collectively create and preserve the visual history of the paradigm shift moment of this ancient town.

<to be continued>

Disclaimer: Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC archives. All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Profile of Shiv Kiran by Ami Gupta / EtP. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Project 365